Archive for the ‘Naturepedic’ Category

Chemical Flame Retardants: Here, There and Everywhere

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

 

Chemical flame retardants: we at Naturepedic don’t like them or use them and we’ve worked to ensure our mattresses pass flammability standards without them.

Depending on the specific compound, flame retardants have been connected to neurobehavioral issues, developmental disorders, endocrine disruption, reproductive health problems, diabetes, and even cancer.

Additionally, many of these chemicals can sneak past waste water treatments and pollute our streams, rivers and lakes. For these reasons, ALL Naturepedic products are free of chemical flame retardants.

Recent initiatives in California and elsewhere are attempting to reduce the use of flame retardant chemicals in couches and other upholstered furniture. These efforts have not yet been extended to mattresses, however, which use different testing standards.

Chemical flame retardants get past treatment plants and into our rivers and lakes

Chemical flame retardants get past treatment plants and into our rivers and lakes

Nonetheless, did you know that chemical flame retardants can be found in a lot more everyday products than furniture and mattresses?

Cell phones and other consumer electronics, toys, carpeting, building materials, paints, even paper products (yes, paper) can all contain these problematic chemicals.

BizNGO, an organization promoting safer chemistries in business, estimates that four billion pounds of flame retardants are used globally by manufacturers each year. (For reference, this is about the equivalent weight of 1.25 million cars). Of that amount, two-thirds is used in plastics.

As BizNGO works to help companies reduce their chemical footprint, it asks companies to start at the beginning by asking: Is the flame retardant necessary?

As research grows regarding the effectiveness of flame retardants, flammability standards are changing and companies may find they no longer need to use them. If companies find they do require them, BizNGO encourages companies to use safer additives and polymers and even redesign products to reduce the need for toxic chemicals.

While the use of flame retardants is a complex issue, increasing public awareness is slowly leading some companies to seek safer alternatives. Apple and other electronics manufacturers, for example, have committed to build enclosures without brominated flame retardants. While plastics can contain a whole list of additives beyond brominated flame retardants, this is a move in the right direction.

Flame retardant chemicals can be found in many items around the house

Flame retardant chemicals can be found in many items around the house

The use of alternatives to dangerous flame retardants may ultimately be driven by consumer demand for safer products. Safer chemistries and products will arise from the interconnected efforts among informed consumers, companies, researchers, governments and organizations.

While consumers will likely never find an “ingredient” label on their new cellphone listing the flame retardants and chemical additives present in the plastic housing, through diligence and research (and a few letters to their government representatives) the people buying the products can ultimately effect change.

Here are just a few of our favorite sites for consumers wishing to research flame retardants and trends in safer products.

BizNGO

Center for Environmental Health

Environmental Work Group

HealthyStuff.org

Healthy Child Healthy World

Washington Toxics Coalition

Just Because You’re Asleep Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Paying Attention

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

 

Being in the business of sleep, we were fascinated by a new research study out of France that demonstrates a sleeping brain continues to both hear and process speech.

Although the study name, Inducing task-relevant responses to speech in the sleeping brain, may be sleep-inducing, the findings are much more captivating.

In the study, volunteers did simple word association tasks. In one experiment, subjects were verbally given a word and pushed a button with their right or left hand depending on if the word was categorized as either an animal or an object. A second experiment used the same button pushing, but subjects selected left or right based on if the words were actual words or pseudowords.push_button_zzz_rt

Working in Your Sleep

Easy stuff, particularly when awake. Test subjects were wired to an electroencephalography (EEG) device, which allowed researchers to monitor brain activity. The EEG could clearly differentiate between the brain’s signals for a right or left hand button push.

The amazing part, however, happened after subjects fell asleep. What the researchers found was that most of the subjects continued to respond appropriately to the verbal words, if only in their brains. The subjects didn’t physically push the buttons while asleep, of course, but their brains did. Even while asleep, a left side word caused the appropriate brain activity: activity on the right side of the brain (left hand activities activate the right side of the brain and vice versa).

In other words, not only were the subjects hearing the words in their sleep, but they were also processing them, correctly determining if they were animal or object and activating signals for an push_button_zzz_lftappropriate left or right hand response! Previous studies had shown that external tones and odors can influence sleep, but this was the first formal study looking at external stimuli that was associated with a task. Beyond sleep walking, could this be an example of sleep working?

While the study does not allow sweeping conclusions to be drawn, it shows we might be processing more stimuli in our sleep from the external world than realized.

Next time you say something is so easy you can even do it in your sleep, you might just be right.

The study was published in the Sept. 24, 2014 issue of the journal Current Biology. The lead researcher was S. Kouider.

Avoiding GMOs – what are your current options?

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

 

We believe consumers should have a right to know what they are eating and drinking (AND sleeping on!) In a previous post we mentioned our partnership with Just Label It, an organization advocating labeling of foods using Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). At this time, however, companies are not required to disclose GMOs. Nonetheless, consumers that wish to avoid GMOs do have a few tools available.

Buyers can look for:

USDA_LogoThe USDA Organic label. USDA certified organic food currently can not contain GMOs. While this logo can also apply to non-edible raw natural fibers and materials such as cotton, this label is not designed for finished textile products.

 

Non-GMO Project Verified label.nonGMO1 While this voluntary certification guarantees food does not contain GMOs, it does not mean food is organic, so food with this label can still be grown with synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Also, because this verification is voluntary, the absence of the label does not mean an item necessarily contains GMOs. Smaller organic food operations may be unable to afford the certification process.

 

GOTS certified textiles and mattresses do NOT contain GMO cotton

GOTS label. While not for food but for textiles, apparel and mattresses, the GOTS label applies to cotton, one of the top five GMO crops in the world. GOTS does NOT permit the use of GMO cotton. That means all cotton in Naturepedic mattresses (which are independently certified to GOTS) is free of GMOs, and this goes for cotton fabrics as well as cotton filling. Any raw cotton we source is U.S. grown and certified USDA Organic.

 

 

While the above labels help people know whether their food or textiles were made with GMOs, we believe people have the right to know what’s in their food at all times. We invite you to join us and the other partners in Just Label It to ask the FDA to protect your right to know. Sign the online petition for GMO labeling at justlabelit.org/take-action.

 

No Escape: Study shows elevated levels of organophosphate flame retardants in children

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

A recent study looking at the commonly used class of flame retardants known as organophosphate flame retardants has shown an elevated presence of these chemicals in children when compared to their mothers. These flame retardants include TDCP, often referred to as Tris. (TDCP’s chemical designation is Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) and is also called TDCIPP or TDCPP). TDCP is listed as a known carcinogen by the State of California and has been associated with altered hormone levels and diminished semen quality in men in previous studies.

Cover of No Escape  study from Environmental Working Group and Duke University The study was funded in part by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and conducted by researchers at Duke University and the EWG. Organophosphate flame retardants and components of the flame retardant Firemaster 550 (FM550) are the most commonly detected flame retardants in the polyurethane foam cushioning found in couches and baby products.  Previous research on Firemaster 550  (which contains the organophosphate flame retardant TPHP as well as as EH-TBB, another chemical of potential concern) found that perinatal exposure to Firemaster 550  resulted in early puberty, glucose sensitivity, and significant weight gain in rats.

While past research demonstrated a high level of exposure in adults to these commonly used flame retardants, virtually no research existed prior to this study looking at exposure to organophosphate flame retardants in children. Not surprisingly, this new study suggests children are also ubiquitously exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis.

The presence of organophosphate flame retardants  were determined through urine samples. Tests looked for associated metabolites, biomarkers left in the urine after the body had metabolized the flame retardants.  Because of the presence of organophosphate flame retardants in common household dust, scientists suspected they would find higher levels in children, which the study verified. This higher level was predicted because children tend to have more hand to mouth activity than adults yet lower levels of hand washing.

This study looked at a relatively small sampling: 21 paired mothers and children in New Jersey, with children ranging between one and five years of age. BDCIPP, the biomarker for TDCP, was found in the urine of all of the test subjects  but was found 4.9 times greater, on average, in the urine of the children than in their mothers.

While this study largely confirms what researchers already suspected, more research is needed on how this increased exposure may affect the health and development of our youngest citizens, who are regularly being exposed to these chemicals.

To read more about this important study, download the EWG report No Escape on the EWG website.

The Children & Nature Network Gets Kids Outdoors

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Naturepedic’s focus is on health, wellness and vitality.  The Children & Nature Network (C&NN) also focuses on these areas, but in different ways. They work to get kids exploring, playing  outdoors and reconnecting with nature.

Co-founded by Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder and The Nature Principle: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age, C&NN has built an extensive global network of people and organizations working to get kids excited about nature. Recognizing that children simply don’t interact with the great outdoors as much as in the past, C&NN provides resources and inspiration for parents, educators and concerned citizens globally to help make nature a part of the everyday lives of children.

The C&NN website is a massive repository of information and resources serving a wide variety of needs. With excellent materials for individuals, the site also provides resources for those interested in creating grassroots advocacy groups. The site even has a section for pediatrician’s wishing to promote the mental and physical health benefits of outdoor activity.

The Children & Nature Network is not affiliated with Naturepedic. It’s just a great organization doing great things.

So get outside!Apr 20 2008 - VID00072

Just Label It Advocates for Your Right to Know If GMOs Are In Your Food

Friday, October 10th, 2014

hi-res_label-dark-text

Naturepedic has joined more than 600 companies and organizations in becoming a partner with Just Label It, promoting the right to know when there are Genetically Engineered (GE) ingredients in your food.

More than two-thirds of processed foods in the U.S. contain GE ingredients. GE ingredients come from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), plants or animals that contain artificially inserted genetic material from other species that simply couldn’t happen in nature or through traditional breeding methods. Currently, there are no laws requiring labeling or disclosure of GE ingredients.

Just Label It advocates the labeling of GMOs and so do many, many others. GMO labeling has garnered support that is independent of political affiliation or gender, and more than 750,000 people have contacted the FDA on this issue.

Ready to take action? Sign an online petition asking the FDA to guarantee that GMOs are labeled. Visit http://justlabelit.org/take-action/ and add your voice in asking the FDA to protect your right to know.

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The nine most common GMO crops are: 

  • Corn   
  • Soybeans   
  • Canola   
  • Cotton*   
  • Sugar Beets   
  • Alfalfa   
  • Hawaiian Papaya   
  • Zucchini   
  • Yellow Crookneck Squash 

 

 

 

* While cotton is one of the top three crops using GMOs, Naturepedic mattresses and accessories do not use GMO cotton. All Naturepedic mattresses are independently certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) which expressly forbids the use of GMO cotton. If you would like to purchase clothing, textiles or mattresses made WITHOUT GMO cotton, look for the GOTS logo.

Look for the GOTS logo for organic authenticity

Look for the GOTS logo for organic authenticity

California’s SB1019 Requires Disclosure of Flame Retardants in Furniture

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

 

 

On September 30, 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1019, an important step forward in helping consumers avoid toxic flame retardants in their furniture. The new law, which goes into effect in 2015, will require furniture sold in California to clearly disclose if chemical flame retardants were added in order to meet flammability standards.

The new law follows up last year’s update to California’s Technical Bulletin 117 (a 1975 standard which required furniture sold in California to pass flammability tests). The update, known as TB117-2013, changed the way flammability is tested on furniture, foregoing the previously required open flame tests on the inner cushion to instead requiring a cigarette smolder test conducted on the outer fabric.  Because the majority of furniture cushioning is made from highly flammable polyurethane foam, open flame tests basically guaranteed the addition of flame retardants … and often a substantial amount.

Unfortunately, TB117-2013 did not require companies to disclose the use flame retardants, nor did it forbid their use.  This meant that while furniture makers could pass tests without injecting flame retardants into the foam, consumers still had little way of knowing if the chemicals were actually there or not. Considering the issue from a liability angle, it is not unreasonable to assume many companies would continue to add the chemicals.

With this new ruling, furniture makers can still add chemical flame retardants, but they must disclose their use through a label. Given public concerns over potential health and developmental issues in relationship to flame retardants, it’s unlikely that consumers, when given a choice, would select a piece of furniture with potentially dangerous chemicals if they could select one without. While these flammability rulings are only for California, given the size of the California market, they frequently affect furniture makers throughout the entire U.S.

The bill as written requires disclosure of flame retardants used in all components of the furniture.  The actual wording of the bill defines “Added flame retardant chemicals” as flame retardant chemicals that are present in any covered product or component thereof at levels above 1,000 parts per million. This suggests that even flame retardants mixed into synthetic fabrics at the time of their manufacture will still need to be disclosed.

It is important to note that this ruling applies to furniture and furnishing but not mattresses, which must meet a different set of standards and still must meet open flame tests, which are required at the national level. Because of the frequent use of polyurethane foam, many mattresses contain flame retardant chemicals. Naturepedic mattresses, however, pass state and flammability standards without the use of chemical flame retardants, including fabric or other barriers that could these chemicals.

This is a hugely important step forward in removing toxic flame retardants from furniture. You can go here to read the actual wording of SB1019 .

Naturepedic Founder and Other Organic Visionaries to be Honored

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

The organics movement is growing and the Organic Trade Association (OTA) supports organic businesses and the leaders that make them thrive. The OTA is holding its 2014 Organic content_img.23.imgLeadership Awards on September 17 to recognize three individuals making significant impacts on the organic industry.  We are proud to announce Naturepedic founder Barry Cik has been selected as one of those visionaries in the organic movement.

American_Visionary_Arts_Museum,_Baltimore_(ca._2005)

Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum
Photo CC license Wikipedia

The awards will take place at The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, a colorful venue perfect for recognizing the vibrancy of the organic movement. Naturepedic’s Barry Cik will be awarded the Rising Star Award for his work in growing a small Ohio-based company into a national organic presence.

The OTA will also award the Growing the Organic Industry Award to Marty Mesh, Executive Director of Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers Inc. (FOG). Marty is a hands-on veteran in organic agriculture with more than 40 years of experience. Not only instrumental in forming FOG, Marty has been involved in many areas of organic business including policy, advocacy, training, certification, and more.

The Organic Farmer of the Year Award will go to Doug Crabtree, a farmer and organic farm trainer. Doug owns organic farm Vilicus Farms in Montana (although he grew up on a farm in Ohio, the state where Naturepedic is based). Along with his wife Anna, Doug runs an apprenticeship program. By sharing his extensive knowledge of organic farming methods, Doug is inspiring more farmers to grow organically and is helping them develop the skills needed for success.

Join us in giving a big organic cheer for this year’s Organic Leadership winners! Together, they are promoting individual personal health and the overall health of our planet. As a bit of appropriate trivia: Villicus in Latin means “steward.” Thanks Doug, Marty and Barry for all being good stewards of the earth.

 

Naturepedic Organic Mattress and Barry Cik

Naturepedic’s Barry Cik in front of a Naturepedic organic mattress

Resources for Businesses for a Healthier Economy

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Sustainable business practices influence all levels of life: workers, consumers and businesses across the country who stand to lose greatly if we don’t protect our environment. The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) can help you keep up to date on initiatives and efforts working toward a healthier, more sustainable economy.

ASBC LogoTo this end, ASBC recently rolled out a cleaner website design to enhance the public’s understanding of these important issues.

Geared to businesses who want to create a more sustainable economy, the ASBC website has material that anyone interested in these issues will find useful.  Highlighting topics like safer chemicals, agriculture, energy, workers’ rights, pollution, climate change and more, the website allows visitors to catch up on current research and new trends in sustainable business. Readers can also learn about pending legislation, both at the state and federal levels, and read polling reports commissioned by ASBC on some of the biggest issues of the day, like climate, extreme weather, and minimum wage.

Most importantly, the ASBC website showcases actions people can take in working for sustainability. For example, the site includes pre-written templates to help easily reach out to legislators. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle like to talk about how much they love small businesses – that’s precisely why this kind of tool is important.

ASBC shows that sustainability and business do go hand in hand, and that meaningful change requires the collective efforts of individuals, businesses, researchers and governments. After all,  people, cities, factories and stores are all located on one single planet. If we don’t take action to protect the planet, it’s not just polar bears that will suffer – our economy will too.

Naturepedic, along with sustainability-minded businesses including Ben & Jerry’s, Seventh Generation, Patagonia, Stonyfield Farm and more, is a proud member of ASBC and the Companies for Safer Chemicals coalition.

 

Naturepedic Puts Veggies to Work

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Vegetables are awesome to eat, but they also serve as a sustainable raw material in making bio-based fabrics.  Well played, veggies!

In time for Las Vegas Market*, Naturepedic is announcing the use of this plant-based fabric to wrap the coils in its EOS organic mattress.  Similar bio-based fabric is already used in European mattresses, but Naturepedic is the first to use it in the U.S.

Of course we take things a few steps further (because that’s how we are!) First, our fabric is being sourced from non-GMO plants. Next, we’ve come up with a special process to securely seal the coils with the bio-based fabric without the need for adhesives. The individual wrapped coils are then collectively encased in an organic cotton fabric zippered case for greater ease of installation and added durability.

EOS will of course continue to include plenty of organic cotton, wool, and, depending on the configuration, GOLS-certified organic latex. Bio-based fabric is just another sustainable addition.

Yet another way veggies are working for you!

 

*Las Vegas Market is a HUGE trade show held twice a year in, of course, Las Vegas.  Home furnishings, décor and gift manufacturers set up to attract the eyes of buyers for retail stores from all over the U.S. and beyond. This industry show brings in some 50,000 buyers looking to snag the latest, coolest and best new items to sell in their stores. Naturepedic’s display can be found in the Specialty Sleep Association Showroom (C1565).  Summer Market 2014 runs July 27 through 31. [include Market photo].